REVIEW: Patrick Widdess reports on De La Soul at the Junction 3 June 2009

Music Group
It's 20 years since De La Soul released their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising. Their catchy dynamic sound has been a hit in the hip hop community and beyond and they have collaborated with everyone from Gorillaz to Teenage Fanclub. The capacity crowd at the Junction included many who remember their late 80s debut like it was yesterday and others who could be their children or grandchildren.
Things kicked of with Delegates of Culture, a local collective bursting with talent and ambition. Still fresh they struggle to find their own voice, slavishly following hip hop's established styles and mannerisms. The stage seems a bit overcrowded with up to 3 rappers strutting about rapping over each other and into each other but they show a lot of passion and have worked hard to earn this prestigious slot supporting their heroes. The real star of the group turns out to be the DJ who takes the mic for the last two tracks, rapping at lightning speed to an infectious beat.

De La Soul's DJ gets the crowd pumped up and Posdnuos and Trugoy burst on stage already rapping. It's a high energy party and crowd participation is essential. Hands are in the air, bobbing up and down, waving side to side. A strong chorus enthusiastically shouts back responses including tongue twisters along the lines of de la de la la la de la soul.

The performance flows from one tune to the next covering new songs and old classics. They perform to the backing tracks for most of the set allowing Maseo to get down to the front and rap with the others but he also demonstrates good turntablist skills using the record decks as a musical instrument, cutting and scratching to create a live accompaniment to hits such as Me, Myself and I. After twenty minutes or so they take a break. After an hour they wind up leaving Maseo to mix up some hip hop classics until closing time. The show pays testament to their brilliance as an enduring and influential hip hop act but as they admit it's hard to keep jumping around at their age. They might be slowing down but they have a new album out and are a long way from retirement age. They have also influenced a new generation of hip hop acts and the crowd at the Junction saw the best of the old skool and the new.

Patrick Widdess